Monday, February 29, 2016

The Backyard as Laboratory and Workshop. Ants in exodus, albino in plants, return of the black rat, a new crab spider, mysterious satellites

"We are humbled by the mysteries governing our world and beyond."
Dr Abe V Rotor 
  Living with Nature School on Blog []
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday

 Black Ant (Lasius niger) colony on the move signals the coming of strong rain, 
 more so a typhoon.  It's Nature's early signal for humans to take heed, but many would simply dismiss it as superstition.

The black ant is a common ant species, very active, fast moving, and typically, would run away from human confrontation. Like other ant species, black ants swarm usually at the start of the rainy season, known as nuptial flight, a kind mass mating. Colonies are found under bricks, wood piles, and flower pots.  Black ants may enter homes to forage on leftovers and to seek shelter.  Normally they feed on fruits, seeds, small insects, and on honeydew of aphids around gardens and vegetation. A colony may reach 10,000 strong headed by a queen which can live for many years - reportedly up to 29 years.  
Earthworm thrives on highly acidic soil, in fact, under leaking vinegar jars where the leak accumulates organic materials that serve as food to the earthworm. This is a good subject of research in biology.

Brown and black rats infest the city.  Black rats are gaining superiority over their brown predecessors - Rattus raattus norvigicus (city rat) and Rattus rattus mindanensis (field rat).  . 

The black rat (Rattus rattus), also known as the ship rat, has a notorious history, originally from India, arriving in Europe with the Romans 2,000 years ago in ships and crates of cargo. Fleas on black rats brought the plague to Europe in the Middle Ages. The Black Death killed one-third of the population of Europe, three million people in England - over half the population at that time. (British Wildlife Centre)

Firecracker fountain leaves a residue of sand, soil (including "black soil") and phosphorescent filler after the revelry.  These are deleterious to health, from skin irritation to allergic reaction - and possible pathogenic contamination.
Let us support the firecracker ban  
 Strange bilateral symmetry of web spider.  The pairing of the eight legs to appear four in as X-pattern adds to the organism's camouflage, while its colorful crab shape body attracts preys that get entangled in the web. A strange looking organism such as this may lead to the discovery of a new species, or simply a variant caused by natural  environmental adaptation -  or mutation. Mutation may lead to specition (species formation). Crab spider don't build web which makes this specimen a good subject of research. 

Chimera in plants is the counterpart of albino in animals.  The lack of pigment, or its absence, may be traced to Nature's "error" in transmitting pigment genes from parents to offspring -  which happens, though in small percentage chance - in the living world encompassing protists to humans.  Animals lacking melanin are  predisposed to ultraviolet rays and other harmful effects of the environment principally heat.  And  they are more vulnerable to predation, save those which have found protection from man, the white elephant considered sacred being one.  

Droppings and leftover of native guava, litter the underneath a coconut tree where a fruit bat spent the night. At daybreak  this winged mammal had by then returned to its abode in  the watershed of La Mesa Dam near the author’s residence. Closeup photo of a fruit bat taken by the author at Tikob Lake in Tiaong, Quezon.  Fruit bats grow enormously big such as this specimen (Internet photo) making them look fearful. 

 Mysterious twin satellites in the sky.  To UFO hunters and the superstitious, this photo and similar photos, invite scrutiny.  Reports of aliens visiting the Earth, spirits in limbo, are among popular subjects and beliefs which make good conversational pieces. As science and technology advance to probe the universe, so with man's  ability to scan the brain and psyche, while man is being humbled by the deep mysteries governing our world and beyond. Note quarter moon in boat-like position.  To many it is associated with man's behavior, which leads us to the old notion that our behavior is influenced by the phases of the moon. ~

Ode to Mount Makiling

Dr Abe V Rotor
  Living with Nature School on Blog []
Profile of Mt Makiling approaching Calamba, Laguna

Sleep, sleep deep and well,
just snore gently through your fumarole,
bubbling the warmth of the earth, 
and play a friendly role:

Creatures all you carry on your back and top,
birds too tired on their route come to a stop;

a sanctuary to them, and others in transience,
bringing them together in seasonal conference;

up north they return when their winter is over,
and down south others go for their summer;

Many tenants you care by your rules and game;
in Nature, each has a role whether wild or  tame.

your trees catch the clouds coming drifting low, 
and humble the wind to come in gentle blow.

sunrise comes in golden spears among the trees
that unveil the mist and dance with the breeze.

sunset comes early in the trees, it settles quick;  
except for the many eyes, night is dark as ink.

night sounds are eerie -  the language in the wild;
keeping campers stay awake and wide eyed. 

at daybreak comes the roll call, each creature to its chore,
and the forest is alive once more.    

cathedral of trees dwarfed only by the sky and sight
in ever increasing span of height and might.  

in storeys and boundaries, each a niche, a territory,
where each kind live in family and harmony. 

Don't wake up to soon, be that gentle mountain as long
as the children have not grown, and the grownups
coming along to catch the lost years to know you more,
away from the city, from malls and coffee shops.~

Forest Adventure - a Break from the Postmodern World

"Go to the wilderness, our ancestral birthplace,  
rugged yet beautiful, undisturbed, pure,
where peace-and- harmony reigns in all its glory ..."

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog [ ]
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday

Forest Adventure in acrylic on canvas (45" x 57") by AVR, 2016

Freedom from computer, television, smart phone,  
      mall, ball games, rigors of schooling;  
boredom of the Good Life, the idleness of leisure -,
      break out into the open and start living; 

Go to the wilderness, our ancestral birthplace,
      rugged yet beautiful, undisturbed, pure,
where peace-and- harmony reigns in all its glory,
      a world primordial, the womb of Nature.

Be courageous even in the midst of fear.
      catch fish, catch ideas too, in bounty;
conquer heights through will, guts and providence,
       revere life and all its diversity,

The forest has many eyes, more so in the night,
      fireflies and stars mingle, they are one;
join the birds, crickets, waterfall, running stream,  
      the spirit of the place in prayer and fun.  
Children to men these seven boys will soon become,
      leaders of a kinder world, friendly to creation,
disciples of Rizal, Mark Twain, Thoreau.  Emerson,
      hope of a lost postmodern generation. ~  
Details of mural: Preparing tent for the night. Birds and butterflies meet sunrise.

Waterfall connects sky and forest.  Adventure of climbing and fishing.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Philippine History for the month of March: Dawn of Modern Science and Technology, and Acadenic Achievements

University of the Philippines at Los Baños officially established

On March 6, 1909, the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) founded by American botanist Edwin B. Copeland, was officially established. 

The Board of Regents of the American University of the Philippines established the College of Agriculture in Los Baños, Laguna, setting up an institution dedicated to research and education in agriculture and related disciplines. 

Today in Philippine history, March 15, 1956, the Philippines was selected as site for Asian Nuclear Research Center

   Atoms for Peace program
On March 15, 1956, US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, announced in Manila that the Philippines had been selected as site for the projected Asian Nuclear Research Center, this was followed by a statement in Washington, issued by the International Cooperation Administration (ICA), which ran, in part: 

"The Republic of the Philippines has been chosen as the site for the new Asian nuclear center which was proposed by the United States at the Colombo Plan meeting held in Singapore last October. The United States is now preparing to move rapidly with initial plans for the establishment of this center as a means of putting atomic energy to work for the economic and social progress of Asia. This action will represent an important step toward the further advancement of President Eisenhower's atoms-for-peace program." 

"Careful consideration of all of the factors involved in the matter of physical location led to the decision that the Philippines best meets the requirements of availability of the proposed center to all of the Colombo Plan countries .... The United States has been gratified with the interest shown in its proposal by the Colombo Plan countries. In this connection the offer of the Philippine Government to provide the physical site for the center is an important contribution to its ultimate success." 

The projected nuclear research center would provide funds for laboratory facilities and equipment, and to supply a reactor to serve research and training purposes. It would supplement existing facilities for the basic training at the college level for engineers, chemists, and physicians. It could also offer facilities for research in the field of medicine, agriculture, and industry. It would be able to provide valuable training for instructors and teachers in nuclear science for other Asian educational institutions. It could also serve as a convenient meeting place for international conferences for scientists, government officials, industrialists, and others interested in the peaceful uses of atomic energy. 

Earlier on August 13, 1955, a month after the Geneva Atomic Energy conference, in line with the atoms-for-peace plan proposed by US President Eisenhower before the General Assembly of the United Nations of December 9, 1953, President Magsaysay issued Administrative Order No. 134, "Creating an Interdepartmental Committee on Atomic Energy". 

The Order reads in part:

"By virtue of the powers vested in me by law, I, Ramon Magsaysay, President of the Philippines, do hereby create an Interdepartmental Committee on Atomic Energy to determine the scope which the country expects to cover in the field of nuclear-energy studies and to consider ways and means of financing the work.
"The Committee is hereby authorized to call upon any department, bureau, office, agency, or instrumentality of the Government for such assistance and information as it may need in the performance of its functions. The Committee shall submit its report and recommendations to the President of the Philippines as soon as possible ..." 

Subsequently appointed to this Interdepartmental Committee were:
  • Cesar Lanuza, Economic Officer, Department of Foreign Affairs, Chairman;
  • Pedro Afable, Secretary;
  • Octavio Maloles, Department of Foreign Affairs;
  • Dr. Gregorio Y. Zara, Civil Aeronautics Board;
  • Director Benjamin Gozon, Bureau of Mines;
  • Alfredo Eugenio, Administrator of Civil Defense;
  • Dr. Paulino J. Garcia, Secretary of Health;
  • Dean Crisostomo Ortigas, College of Engineering, University of the Philippines;
  • Col. Florencio Medina, Research and Development Division, Armed Forces of the Philippines;
  • Dr. S. Ador Dionisio, Chief of Clinics, Philippine General Hospital; and
  • Leopoldo Salazar, Institute of Science and Technology.
This is an administrative Committee rather than a committee of physicists, and early in January 1956, Vice-President, and concurrently Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Carlos P. Garcia, called a meeting of the heads of the departments of physics of the different private universities and told them that the Philippines had been tentatively chosen as the site for the projected Asian nuclear research center and that it was desirable to form a nuclear research and training association which would include scientists known in the United States. The "Philippine Nuclear Research and Training Association" was forthwith organized and a Nuclear Committee of this Association was formed to which five scientists were nominated, these being subsequently officially appointed by Vice-President Garcia in his capacity as the Chairman of the Organization Conference.

Dr. Theodor Brings, head of the Department of Physics, Far Eastern University, was appointed Chairman.
Appointed members were
  • Dr. Ciriaco Pedrosa, O.P., Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, University of Santo Tomas;
  • Dr. Hans Scharpenseel, of the Araneta Institute of Agriculture;
  • Dr. Hsieh Yu Ming, head of the Department of Physics, University of the East; and
  • Brother Howard Edwards, S.S.C., Dean of Liberal Arts, De La Salle College.
 In its announcement, William F. Russel, deputy director of the ICA, said that the center is the most ambitious, costly, and extensive nuclear project for solving health, economic and industrial problems in Asia. Funded by the Eisenhower's fund for Asian economic development, it was targeted not only on training and research, but on practical application of atomic energy. "After the development of an isotope laboratory and research reactor, we will go on to a power reactor", Russel said.
Reference: American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Journal, Volume 32, Number 4, April 1956

 Filipino Nuclear Chemist Dr Quirino O Navarro


On March 29, 1936, Dr. Quirino O. Navarro, a noted Filipino chemist, was born in Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro.

Dr. Navarro graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at the University of the Philippines in 1956, and received his Ph.D. in Nuclear Chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley in 1962.

His significant contribution to science is the determination of nuclear properties in the isotopes of californium, einsteinium and dysprosium using cryogenic techniques.

First Visually-impaired Filipina graduated Summa cum Laude from AdMU


On March 24, 2001, Roselle Ambubuyog became the first visually-impaired Filipina to emerge as summa cum laude graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU).
Born on January 12,1980, Ambubuyog, totally blind since age six, finished her bachelor of science degree, major in mathematics with flying colors. She was also chosen as class valedictorian chosen among all summa cum laude graduates.

She earlier graduated valedictorian from her elementary school and, four years later, was again valedictorian of her high school batch.

As a scholar of ADMU, the school bought Ambubuyog a Braille Translation Software program that converts encoded or scanned text to computer as well as a Braille printer that produces hard copy Braille to make the exam questionnaires, lecture notes, and other classroom materials.

 Philippine Made Missile System Launched  
On March 12, 1972, the first ever Philippine made rocket named "Bongbong I" was successfully launched at Caballo island near Corrigedor in the Manila Bay and successfully retrieved from the South China Sea. The rocket was part of the Philippine Military experiment to produce its own ballistic missiles. Initiated by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos, it was researched and developed by a group of Filipino and German engineers and scientists and the Philippine Navy under Project Santa Barbara.

Grow onion leek at home

Onion is the most important vegetable in the world.

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog []
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School on Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday
Lesson in Folk Wisdom for Growing Up Summer Workshop

Native onion grown in pot provides ready fresh onion leek for a number of recipes like fried eggs, soup, omelet, kilawin, porridge (lugaw), arroz caldo.

This is one way to encourage kids to have a daily supplement of vegetables. Vary the use of leek in their diet. 

Onion leek is rich in vitamin K, A, C and B6manganese, folate, iron, fiber, magnesium, molybdenum, copper, calcium, and potassium.  It also contains thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin, and antibiotic substances like Allicin  and Alliin - from Allium, the genus of onion (A. cepa), garlic (A. sativum), kutchay (A tuberosum), and the original leek (A. ampeloprasum).  Leeks generally have also high calorie value, and fair amounts of protein and fat. It is no wonder onion is the most important vegetable in the world.

 Spouting bulb of shallot or bulb variety (Red Creole, right) 

Gather only what you need for the moment using scissor. Don't cut the entire stem - only mature leaves. 

Grow leek where there is sufficient sunlight, preferably on elevated place.  It's easy to grow leek from shallot (Sibuyas Tagalog) and from bulb onions (e.g. Red Creole). Staggered planting assures continuous supply of leek for the family - and for neighbors too. A pot of onion leek  makes a unique gift to friends who love to cook, those in their senior years, and convalescing - with or without special occasion    Don't forget to add a little ribbon and a personal message.  ~

Onions are native to Asia and the Middle East and have been cultivated for over five thousand years. Onions were highly regarded by the Egyptians
and have been revered throughout time not only for their culinary use, but also for their therapeutic properties. They were popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans. Christopher Columbus brought onions to the West Indies; their cultivation spread from there throughout the Western Hemisphere. Today China, India, the United States, Russian, and Spain are among the leading producers of onions.
 – World’s Healthiest Foods